Join Us for IWC’s Parallel Event at CSW64, New York City, March 19!

The 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) will take place March 9-20, 2020 in New York City.  Thanks to our new status as an NGO in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), we can organize a delegation to attend CSW64. Fifteen (15) IWC representatives will attend sessions, panels, presentations and share their experiences with the IWC network through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

This year, for the first time, IWC will host an official Parallel Event during CSW64, on March 19, 10:30 AM at the Church Center for the United Nations. Co-sponsored by the UU United Nations Office, this event is free and open to the public – please join us!

Titled “Toward 2030: Women’s Leadership for Peaceful Sustainability through Innovative Approaches,” the event showcases initiatives for rural, marginalized women, addressing the challenges of gender inequalities and gender-based violence. Panelists will include Carmen Capriles from Bolivia and Dr. Rica Lamar and Karunakaroi Lamar from India. These women have helped implement gender-responsive, locally driven programs in their countries. Former IWC treasurer Phyllis Marsh (USA) will speak about Philippine projects advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goals of Agenda 2030, focusing on sustainable livelihood initiatives. The panel will demonstrate how grassroots programs can empower vulnerable girls and women to gain knowledge and skills through trainings, to increase access to services and employment opportunities, and to promote sustainable options in rural communities.

The UU-United Nations Office has two other events on the schedule.  “Ending Gender Identity Discrimination:  Protecting Trans Rights in Healthcare” will take place on Tuesday, March 10 at 12:30 at the Armenian Convention Center. “By My Side:  Utilizing Doulas in Vulnerable Communities” will take place on Tuesday, March 17 at 4:30 at the Salvation Army International Headquarters. Please see https://www.uua.org/international-justice/events for more information.

CSW sessions this year focus on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Meetings, panels, and workshops will assess current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform and the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment as we move towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

If you’d like to attend any part of CSW this year, please contact Rev. Carol Huston (revcarol@earthlink.net).  You can also follow the events, including our parallel event, through IWC’s social media and UN web.

 

Reflections on Domestic Violence Prevention Training in Transylvania

I took part in a program focusing on awareness and prevention of domestic violence, organized by the UNOSZ and jointly sponsored by the Gábor Bethlen Fund and the IWC, November 29-December 1, 2019.

Why did I attend this seminar focusing on such a sensitive issue? Obviously, I have heard much about intimate partner violence. We all carry with us family patterns. I must admit that in my childhood I fought with those the same age as I. I slapped a boy when I was a university student, who dared grope me in a crowded bus. An angry person is capable of everything: slap, strike, scratch, bite, and even kill.

I knew a nice couple. The wife worked in a hospital, the husband at a construction firm. They had a daughter. They divorced, but no one knew why. Much later I learned that it was a case of domestic violence. It was taboo then, so it took long years for the truth to come out.

There are many aggressors who are highly educated, in management positions, and others who are less educated. Why do they end up perpetrating violence? Who is responsible? Who suffers more, the aggressor or the victim? What happens to the bystander who wants to help – who protects them? Are there laws in place and are they just? These are some of the questions that were whirling in me as I prepared for the program in Marosvásárhely. I had just retired, and I thought this training would give me a new goal: prevent violence around me and help those in need.

The program included presentations by mental health professionals and psychologists, and a panel discussion moderated by Gizella Nagy, former IWC member and coordinator of the IWC-UNOSZ joint Leadership School. One of the takeaways of the very varied presentations was that intimate partner violence is not one own’s business – and it is not a shame to ask for help.  Experts acquainted us with the existing laws and the social network available to help victims of abuse. There are laws, but they are not perfect; and their implementation is often deficient.

One of the most often formulated questions was related to the protection of the bystander: who protects the teacher, family doctor, neighbor, etc. if they want to help the victim? At the individual level, this means reporting an incident of violence to police or an appropriate authority, or taking other action to intervene where it is safe to do so. At the organizational or community level, encouraging members to report incidents of violence and having clear policies in place for responding to specific incidents would be helpful. According to the law, if the victim is a minor, every professional (teacher, school psychologist) must report the incident to the child protection services.

The training concluded with the creation of an informational flyer to raise awareness as well as give helpful information, including the national domestic violence hotline.

Enikő Benedek, Romania

More Than 600 Participate in Violence Awareness Programs in Khasi Communities

From November 2019 to January 2020, Seng Kynthei – the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of Northeast India – organized a variety of violence awareness and prevention programs involving over 600 schoolchildren, youth, and adults in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills.

The initiative took off with a radio talk on November 25, 2019 – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children. Programs were held in Lawsohtun, the Unitarian Secondary School in Puriang, Ksehrynshang Vill, and in churches of the Shillong Circle (Nongthymmai, Nongkrem, Mawkasiang, and Mawlai).

Experiences, ideas, solutions, and prevention methods were shared and proposed to eliminate violence against women and children in Khasi communities in Meghalaya. Men were asked to wear white ribbons as a symbol of their opposition to violence against women, and pledge together to report incidences, be vigilant, and commit to ending violence. Village leaders shared regulations adopted in their villages to curb violence, support the victims to get justice, and bring perpetrators to the law.

We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to the UUNEI who have given us their support in all our endeavours. We are also indebted to the International Women’s Convocation’s sponsorship of this initiative through a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program, and for their trust in us to carry out these activities with the hope and intention to bring about positive changes – the safety and security of all our women and children in our communities.

Major Elgiva Dora Shullai, India

Thank You to Our 2019 Contributors

This list covers donations received from March 1, 2019 through February 1, 2020.

Thank you to all who generously responded to our year-end appeal and to our Faithify campaign to expand a leadership development program in Bolivia.

We are also grateful to the U*U churches and organizations who have shared the plate with us in honor of International Women’s Day 2019: 

Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship,  Australia
All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK
The Community Church of New York, NYC
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church Houston, TX
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, TX
First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, PA
Michael Servetus Unitarian Society, Fridley, MN
Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation, CA
Pacific Central District UU Women & Religion
San Gabriel Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, TX
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos, CA
Unitarian Universalist Area Church in Sherborn, MA
Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg, SC
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brooks, NY
Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, FL
Unitarian Women’s Association of Romania (UNOSZ)
Winchester Unitarian Society, MA

 

Contributions of $1,000 to $4,999

Barbara Kres Beach
Kathy Burek
Julia Harris

European Unitarian Universalists


Contributions of $500 to $999

Linda Condit
George Krumme
Phyllis Marsh
Laura and Harry Nagel
Peg Swain

Contributions of $100 to $499

Jean Crichton
Rev. Susan Donham
Ronald Fuchs
Mary Geissman
Marjorie Girth
Carol Rapaport Glass
Kathleen Grossman
Renee Hills
Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore
Anne Greenwood
Cathy Knapper
Arlene Johnson
Geri Kennedy
Karen Kortsch
Douglas Poutasse
Janet Putnam
Melissa Marsh Ross
Henry DeForest Ralph
Rita Saylors
Julie Steinbach
Zsófia Sztranyiczki
Sylvia Wheeler

Contributions up to $99

Erin Beasley
Linda Lu Burciaga
Lee Boeke Burke
Rita Caufield
Marion Connell
Carol Cook
Frank Coon
Betty Crowley
Joan Cudhea
Kate Gillis
Randi Hetrick
Louise Huddleston
Rev. Carol Huston
Barbara Jacobson
Katherine Jain
Peggy Kanada
Gábor Kiss
Mary Kirwin
Kathy Matsui
Marilyn Mayers
Bev Morgan
Betsy McCollum
Beth O’Connell
Jan Phillips
Jay Roller
Jackie Russell
John Russell
Jean Slusser
Rev. Doddie Stone
Laurie Stuart
Judith Therrien
Rev. Dr. Renee Waun
Frances White McGuire

President’s Message Winter 2020

Rev. Addae A. Kraba

Greetings Members and Friends,

Thanks to supporters like you, IWC’s Faithify campaign to raise funds for the expansion of a leadership development initiative in Bolivia was met with success. The project, which kicks off in the middle of February, will provide Bolivian women and girls skills, tools, and resources to become catalysts for change in their lives, families, and communities.

The United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020 is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” The theme is aligned with the UN Women’s multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for women’s empowerment. In the U.S., 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.  Please join us in honoring and International Women’s Day: a comprehensive packet for congregations is available for download/consultation, on our website. We will appreciate any Sunday offerings in support of our projects to improve women’s lives around the world.

Our large delegation at the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York City, 9 to 20 March 2020) will enhance our visibility on a global scale, thanks to our new special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In addition to attending official sessions, presentations, and panel discussions, IWC will also host a parallel event in New York City on March 19, at the Church Center for the United Nations – see details on pages 4-5. Co-sponsored by the UU United Nations Office, this event is free and open to the public – please join us!

As IWC continues celebrating its 10th anniversary, we hope that you will join us at our Annual Breakfast meeting on Saturday, June 27, 7 to 8:30 AM. Our guest speakers will be Linda Lutomia and Joyce Mohr from the Acacia in Kenya (AIK), a nonprofit organization that partners with community leaders in Mumias (Western Kenya) to care for, shelter, and educate young women who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend high school. We have been invited to Kenya by AIK, where we are jointly planning for a gathering in the fall of 2021. This service-learning trip will continue to provide educational experiences as well as personal bonds with our liberal religious sisters. Stay tuned for details in the months to come.  

If you are passionate about women’s empowerment around the world and are looking for the opportunity to serve while making a global difference, the International Women’s Convocation might be your place! If interested in joining our team of dedicated volunteers, please email us at admin@icuuw.com.

Your financial support and the support from the UU Funding Program grants for our ongoing work have been critical.  On behalf of our board and the many women and girls who have, or are currently receiving invaluable training in other countries, we appreciate and thank all of you.

Rev. Addae Ama Kraba, IWC President

President’s Message Fall 2019 IWC Newsletter

Rev. Addae A. Kraba

Rev. Addae A. Kraba

Greetings Members and Friends,

It has been ten years since Unitarian Universalist women from around the world met in Houston, Texas, for the first U*U women’s convocation. The event was never meant to be just a one-time affair, but an ongoing process of coming together and finding voice. Since that first convocation, platforms of communication and collaboration have been created through online internet communities, national meetings, workshops at UUA general assemblies, and international convocations, in order to inform and support grassroots women in their efforts to achieve civil rights.  Since its inception, the International Women’s Convocation has enabled many women worldwide to attain their human rights through access to economic opportunities, health care and security, education, and political expression.

On July 26, 2019 IWC was granted “Special Consultative Status” by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. This status gives us the right to designate official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and its offices in Geneva and Vienna. IWC representatives can also register for and participate in events, conferences, and activities of the UN, as well as submit written statements or make oral presentations relevant to the work of the Council on subjects in which we are especially competent. We are already making our presence felt at the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women.

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for women’s empowerment. The commemoration is a global mobilization: a rallying point to achieve the human rights of all women and girls. In line with its new special consultative status, IWC is planning to send a sizeable delegation to the 64th Session of the CSW (March 9 to 20, 2020). If you would like to participate as a member of the IWC delegation, please email us at admin@icuuw.com.

IWC owes a debt of gratitude to its members, stakeholders, board of directors, and committed partner organizations for their hard work in supporting women and girls worldwide. I extend a special thanks to outgoing board member Kathy Burek, for her expertise and tireless efforts dedicated to completing our new strategic plan and vision for the next five years.

Let us carry the torch for women’s empowerment together in 2020!

Rev. Addae A. Kraba

President

 

Join Us for CSW64 in New York City, March 9-20, 2020

CSW63 Commission on the Status of Women 11-22 Mar 2019

IWC Representatives Phyllis Marsh and Julie Steinbach at CSW63

Every year in March, the United Nations hosts meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Next year, the event will take place from March 9 to 20.

The CSW is an enormous event, attracting thousands of people.  Sessions on the UN campus document the reality of women’s lives worldwide and crafts a formal statement of goals and agendas for the coming year.  At the same time, there are presentations and workshops at the UN and at other venues in the area.  IWC has had a small delegation at the previous two CSW sessions.

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), the most comprehensive global policy framework and blueprint for women’s empowerment. The main focus of CSW’s 64th Session (CSW64) is the assessment of current challenges that affect the implementation of the Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and its contribution towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As IWC was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this past summer, its presence at CSW64 is valuable. We hope to have a considerable delegation and are applying to host a side event.

Plan to join us for at least part of CSW64 (you don’t need to come for the whole thing)! If you are interested in being a member of the IWC delegation, please contact Rev. Carol Huston revcarol@earthlink.net or 914-830-5414.

 

 

UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls: Join the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, from Nov. 25th to Dec 10th

Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Join the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women)
Through December 10 (Human Rights Day)!

The 25th of every month has been designated “Orange Day” by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence Against Women, to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls. As a bright and optimistic color, orange represents a future free from violence against women and girls.

This year’s global campaign theme, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, calling on people from all walks of life to learn more and take a stand against the pervasive rape culture that surrounds us.

Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalized. Exact numbers of rape and sexual assaults are notoriously difficult to confirm due to frequent latitude and impunity for perpetrators, stigma towards survivors, and their subsequent silence.

On 25 November, wear orange and “orange” physical spaces including your workplaces, significant monuments in your cities, and communities, online spaces such as the websites etc. Use the hashtags #OrangeTheWorld, #GenerationEquality and #16days to show how you orange the world – how you are taking action!

For more information and action ideas, please click here.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General Quote

Report on IWC’s 2019 Annual Meeting

On September 11, 2019, IWC held its annual meeting online for the first time, on the Zoom platform. IWC President Addae A. Kraba greeted the participants from around the world and Rev. Carol Huston offered a message commemorating 9/11, highlighting that “people in the U.S. experienced fear and violence that others experience all the time in other parts of the world. May our projects alleviate that fear and remind others that this fear exists; may we move past the fear for hope and gratitude.”

The meeting featured a presentation by Julie Steinbach, Chair of IWC’s outreach committee, focusing on women’s empowerment projects in Kenya and IWC’s legacy in Uganda. The first part of the presentation covered Julie’s recent time spent in Kampala, Uganda visiting a school affiliated with the African Rural Schools Foundation (ARSF), whose mission is to build schools for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. IWC partnered with ARSF to implement a successful micro-loan program offering business training to 54 women and small loans to 40 women entrepreneurs (2010-2018).

Julie pointed out that the school’s electricity needs are increasingly supplied by solarization. The education includes religious education covering a broad range of religious traditions. It was interesting to note that the students stood up the whole time that the visitors were in the classroom, out of respect – that is their cultural expectation.

Julie’s next stop was Mumias, Western Kenya, where she learned about Acacia in Kenya, an outreach project of First Parish UU in Waltham, MA. Acacia’s mission is education and empowerment for young women in Western Kenya, giving young women the opportunity to go to high school.
Acacia in Kenya Girls - on Full Scholarship

We learned that the girls at the St. Elizabeth Lureko Girls’ School in Mumias are required to keep their hair very short so that hair care does not become a distraction from their studies. We also learned that the students celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day in May to break the stigma of menstruation. 4 out of 5 girls in East Africa lack access to health education and sanitary pads. For more information, please watch Julie’s presentation here: https://youtu.be/tR5f4333LV0

The business meeting continued with several reports and the election of new officers and board members, welcoming new board members Beth O’Connell (France/USA), Krisztina Pap (Germany/Romania), and Peg Swain (USA). Please see more information about our new board here.

Rev. Addae A. Kraba concluded the meeting with words from Rev. Dr. Dorothy Mae Emerson, who recently passed away: “Go shining!”

President’s Message, Summer, 2019

Rev. Addae Ama Kraba

Rev. Addae Ama Kraba

Greetings, members and friends!

The International Women’s Convocation had a busy spring, participating in two events in New York City – the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings in March, and in the UU-UNO Intergenerational Seminar on Gender Equity in April.

At the Intergenerational Seminar, IWC board members from India (Elgiva Shullai), Philippines (Rev. Elvira Sienes), and Romania (Gizella Nagy) took part in a workshop conversation on gender equity in a global context, and IWC executive director Zsófia Sztranyiczki gave participants  fascinating insights  on how gender is constructed in various languages, highlighting gender biases that shape and reinforce gender inequity across cultures. Please read Elgiva, Elvira, and Gizella’s reflections on the seminar on pages 2-3 of this newsletter.

At the conclusion of the intergenerational seminar, the IWC organized its own event on global women’s empowerment and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Women’s Association of the UU Church of the Philippines, formalizing their ongoing collaboration to promote women’s equality, development, social justice, security, and peace. Please see the report on pages 4-5; the summary of the latest AWAKE training to prevent violence against women and girls in the Philippines (Siapo, Negros Oriental) is found on pages 6-7.

General Assembly is in Spokane, Washington later this month; if you  are attending, we hope you will plan to be at our poster session on Thursday, June 20, noon to 1:30 pm in Exhibit Hall A. IWC treasurer Geri Kennedy and board members Kathy Burek and Karen Kortsch are looking forward to greeting and chatting with members, friends, and interested passers-by. This is a wonderful occasion for you to get to know us better, find out more about our organization, and get answers to any questions you might have.

If you are passionate about women’s empowerment around the world and are looking for the opportunity to serve while making a global difference, the International Women’s Convocation might be your place! We are currently seeking individuals interested in joining our various committees; if you are interested, please send us an email at admin@icuuw.com.

Our Annual Meeting this year will not take place at the UUA General Assembly but on the ZOOM online platform in September. The specific date and time as well as other important details will be announced soon.

As we mourn the passing of Rev. Dr. Dorothy May Emerson, we also remember how her work changed the landscape of Unitarian Universalism. Her passion and commitment to U*U women and women’s leadership were exemplary. We are honored to follow in her footsteps as we continue the work of empowerment and equality for women and girls worldwide.